Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays Kevin Hainchek from the swift completion of his morning bike commute — as long as the snow is light and the rain hasn’t actually started.
“I’ve ridden with 15-below wind chill. I’ll ride in single digits,” he said. “I’ll ride if it snows lightly. If it’s raining in the morning, I probably won’t ride.”
Hainchek, 48, rides his Schwinn mountain bike from his home near Edgebrook shopping center at Alpine and Highcrest roads to Weyerhaeuser Co., 2100 23rd Ave., a distance of about five miles. His ride takes him through mostly residential areas, and lasts about 20 to 25 minutes.
With fuel prices in the Rockford area hovering near the $3.30 a gallon mark on Thursday, Hainchek’s payoff is more than a good workout. While saving money on gas bills, he also uses his car less, which translates to less money spent on tires and other maintenance items.
Robb Sinks, owner of Kegel’s Bicycle Store, 2605 Charles St., said bicycle commuting is on the upswing.
“We have seen more people either convert bikes to a commuter bike,” he said, “or just come in to buy a new bike to start commuting.”
Most people who want to start biking to work will choose a mountain bike with smooth tires, or a hybrid bike, which is a road-style bike with upright handlebars and slightly wider tires. An entry-level mountain bike costs $220, but most buyers spend between $300 and $500, Sinks said.
For those who already have a bike, but haven’t used it in a while, a basic tuneup costs between $35 and $55. Sinks recommends installing puncture-resistant tires, a flashing taillight, a headlight, wheel reflectors and slush-fighting fenders.